Scudamore had just time to whisper to Heywood, ’It is my master, the earl himself,’ when the voice came again.
‘What! wounded, Rowland? How is this? And who have you there?’
But that moment Richard heard the sound of his mare’s hoofs on the bridge, and leaving Scudamore to answer for them both, bounded back to the wicket, darted through, and called her by name. Instantly she stood stock still, notwithstanding a vicious kick in the ribs from Eccles, not unseen of Heywood. Enraged at the fellow’s insolence, he dealt him a sudden blow that stretched him at the mare’s feet, vaulted into the saddle, and had reached the outer gate before he had recovered himself. The sleepy porter had just let him through, when the warder’s signal to let no one out reached him. Richard turned with a laugh.
‘When next you catch a roundhead,’ he said, ‘keep him;’ and giving Lady the rein, galloped off, leaving the porter staring after him through the bars like a half-roused wild beast.
Not doubting the rumour of open hostilities, the warder’s design had been to secure the mare, and pretend she had run away, for a good horse was now more precious than ever.
The earl’s study was over the gate, and as he suffered much from gout and slept ill, he not unfrequently sought refuge in the night-watches with his friends Chaucer, Gower, and Shakspere.
Richard drew rein at the last point whence the castle would have been visible in the daytime. All he saw was a moving light. The walls whence it shone were one day to be as the shell around the kernel of his destiny.
Love and war.
When Richard reached home and recounted the escape he had had, an imprecation, the first he had ever heard him utter, broke from his father’s lips. With the indiscrimination of party spirit, he looked upon the warder’s insolence and attempted robbery as the spirit and behaviour of his master, the earl being in fact as little capable of such conduct as Mr. Heywood himself.
Immediately after their early breakfast the next morning, he led his son to a chamber in the roof, of the very existence of which he had been ignorant, and there discovered to him good store of such armour of both kinds as was then in use, which for some years past he had been quietly collecting in view of the time—which, in the light of the last rumour, seemed to have at length arrived—when strength would have to decide the antagonism of opposed claims. Probably also it was in view of this time, seen from afar in silent approach, that, from the very moment when he took his education into his own hands, he had paid thorough attention to Richard’s bodily as well as mental accomplishment, encouraging him in all manly sports, such as wrestling, boxing, and riding to hounds, with the more martial training of sword-exercises, with and without the target, and shooting with the carbine and the new-fashioned flint-lock pistols.